Bad cholesterol is very damaging, there is no secret in that. So are we able to reduce this cholesterol through our diet alone?
Firstly lets look at what cholesterol is…
Cholesterol is a fat chemical that is made within the cells in your body. There are many different cells that make cholesterol, but the cells in the liver make about a quarter of the total. Although many foods contain cholesterol, it is poorly absorbed by the gut into the body. Therefore, cholesterol that you eat in food has little effect on your body and blood cholesterol level, and yes a certain amount of cholesterol is present in the bloodstream.
You do however need some cholesterol to keep you healthy. Cholesterol is carried in the blood as part of particles called lipoproteins.
There are different types of lipoproteins, but the most relevant to cholesterol are:
Low-density lipoproteins carrying cholesterol – LDL cholesterol. This is often referred to as bad cholesterol. This is the one mainly involved in forming atheroma. Atheroma is the main underlying cause of various cardiovascular diseases (see below). The majority of cholesterol in the blood is LDL cholesterol, but how much varies from person to person.
High-density lipoproteins carrying cholesterol – HDL cholesterol. This is often referred to as good cholesterol. This may prevent atheroma forming.
The question being asked by many is can cholesterol be lowered with diet alone? The answer is – Yes it can be!
The main cause of high cholesterol is too much saturated fat in the diet. Consuming saturated fat will raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Common foods that are high in saturated fats are:
– Meat Pies
– Fatty cuts of meat
– Hard Cheese
– Cakes and Biscuits
– Foods containing Coconut oil or Palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat, rather than saturated will help lower cholesterol levels. Individuals trying to lower their cholesterol should try to eat foods in which are high in unsaturated fats.
These are foods such as:
– oily fish (such as mackerel and salmon)
– nuts (such as almonds and cashews)
– seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin)
– vegetable oils and spreads (such as sunflower, olive, corn, walnut and rapeseed oils)
Fibre is also used to help lower cholesterol levels in the body. There are 2 types of fibre, soluble and insoluble and most foods contain a mixture of both. Soluble fibre can be digested by the body and is known to lower cholesterol levels.
Good sources of soluble fibre are:
– fruit and vegetables
If individuals apply the points spoken about in this article, then they will be able to lower cholesterol levels in their body with nutrition alone. You should also remember to eat 5-6 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Of course this is not to say that you can just put your feet up and rely on diet alone! A good diet is vital to good health in so many ways but so is exercise and physical activity.
When you have both working in tandem, then you are well and truly on the path to fine fitness and health!